As a female professional who may have been out of the industry for some time due to maternity or study leave, it may be intimidating to venture back into full time employment. However, there is a very good coaching programme which encourages women to put their concerns aside and find employers who see a career break as a positive and not a negative aspect of a CV.
The Women Returners Professional Network assists women who have taken a career break – for whatever reason – in getting back into the job market, encouraging them to focus on past achievements and transferrable skills and take the step back into full time employment. This facilitation has helped a number of women find a new role that recognises their strengths and values their experience. Here are the stories of two such women in their own words:
Carolyne, Macquarie Returner Programme
"After many years in the City, I decided to take a career break at the end of 2013, to spend more time with my two children as my eldest was transitioning to senior school. I had spent most of my career in the equities business and knew I wanted a change but wasn’t sure what to do next. I decided to follow my interests and within a few weeks had enrolled to read a Masters in Corporate Governance. I enjoyed learning again more than ever, maybe because I was mature enough to appreciate the opportunity. Although studying, I was also able to spend quality time with my boys which was very important to me. I had always felt that I had missed that opportunity when they were younger.
By the summer of 2016, I felt more than ready to come back to work but I wasn’t sure where to start. A friend of mine recommended Women Returners’ programmes. I went online, saw that Macquarie were embarking on their inaugural programme and decided to submit an application. From the first welcome experience at the Macquarie presentation and meeting with David Fass, Macquarie Group CEO EMEA, and other members of the Executive team, I felt that something special was happening. Seeing the programme supported by so many senior staff on that first day was testament to how much support there was for the programme.
Soon I was tasked with project managing the establishment of a new operations hub in the M4 corridor.
Since then, I haven’t looked back. I love my role, work with a great group of people and am enjoying being at work more than ever. The Macquarie Returner Programme is designed to genuinely help talented women find a role where they can thrive after taking a bit of time out and I would recommend it to anyone who believes they have value to add to the workplace but are unsure about how to take that first step."
Adheli, project manager in Financial Services, four year break
"My name is Adheli and my family and I moved from Mexico City to London 5 years ago because of my husband’s job. It was a really big challenge for me because suddenly I found myself as a full-time mum instead of having a full-time job. Before we moved to the UK I was a CRO business manager and successfully ran a number of projects, managed the business change strategy and integrated some of the systems. I loved my job and I’ve always loved been a “working mum”. When I realised that I needed to settle my family and myself in our new life in a new country it was very easy for me to “quit” my professional career and focus on doing whatever I needed to do to manage this change. What I never thought was how complicated it would be to re-start my career after a break (almost 4 years).
When I first started looking for a job it was frustrating as I wasn’t sure how the gap in my CV would look and if the recruiters would be interested in a CV that has no experience working in the UK, plus a career gap.
One day my husband told me about Women Returners and I started to follow their LinkedIn profile and subscribed to the newsletter. I applied to the Fidelity New Horizons returning programme wishing this was the opportunity I was looking for.
I received an email from Fidelity inviting me to their assessment day; I didn’t know what to expect if I’m honest. First thing we had that morning was a session with our Women Returners coach, Anna. I’m convinced that this session we had before the interviews was the real game changer for my performance and confidence during the interview. A couple of weeks later I received a call from HR offering me a spot on their returning programme!
Once we started the programme, we had several coaching sessions with Anna from Women Returners. She helped me in a way that no one else has helped me in my career. The coaching was not empty sessions with tons of information to digest; all the session included introspective exercises to make our fears, insecurities and worries conscious. Returning to work after some time “out of the game” I was not the same person as before and my confidence was not where it used to be. I felt really worried about things that I didn’t use to worry about before, and I overthought every single thing that I did
The coaching helped enormously so that I could overcome those fears and doubts and get back up to speed as a project manager. I’m now really enjoying being back at work and being part of Fidelity. My manager has also been very supportive and encouraging.
As a woman, as a mum and as a professional my advice for other women trying to get back to work would be: don’t think about it for too long because the longer you think about this, your mind will start playing tricks on you. Every single action you try is worthwhile as a step on your journey and eventually your opportunity will come."
Don't miss this opportunity
The Bank of America Merrill Lynch has opened applications for its eighth UK Returning Talent programme for individuals who have been out of work for 12 months or longer. They are looking to attract individuals from a financial services background in areas such as Sales, Trading, Structuring and Research, Banking Operations, Technology, Finance, Project and Change Management, to fill several London-based positions. The programme consists of a London Conference followed by two workshops, all during February 2018.
The application closing date is 15 December 2017.
Both Macquarie and Fidelity will be running new Women Returner programmes in 2018, so sign up to the Women Returners Professional Network to receive updates on forthcoming opportunities.